When you watch Stanley, a 15-month-old Bernedoodle, work with kids, it’s apparent that he was born for the job. He recently joined his trainer, Isys Johnson, and owner, Jan Wade, at the Abilities Expo in Boston and was a crowd favorite! Stanley is a therapy dog, or facility dog, that spends his days at the Boston Ability Center working with children who have disabilities.
Stanley Shows Us Dog Therapy At Its Best
Jan Wade is the Director of Boston Ability Center, a state of the art pediatric wellness center that is dedicated to helping kids reach their highest level of function in every area of development. When Jan got Stanley last year, her intention was for him to work with the kids that attend the center.
She chose a Bernedoodle, a cross between a Bernese Mountain Dog and Poodle that is a fairly new breed, because of the large stature and intelligence while having no capability to shed.
Beginning when he was eight weeks old, Stanley has spent time at the Boston Ability Center and group homes for kids with disabilities. His trainer, Isys, runs a successful dog training business called “She’s a Keeper.” Isys says Stanley had the perfect temperament to go into this line of work. In fact, he’s already certified as a “Canine Good Citizen” by the American Kennel Society.
Did you know that not all “service dogs” are the same? In fact, the term service dog refers to a specially trained companion animal that performs vital functions for a specific individual. Therapy dogs, on the other hand, are trained to be extra people-friendly to go into facilities, often hospitals or rehabs, to help people feel better. Stanley will soon be certified as a service dog, but because his owner does not have a disability and he is not serving the needs of a single person, he is referred to as a facility dog!
When it comes to tricks, games, and commands, Stanley’s repertoire is quite impressive. He supports the kids at the center in a number of ways, including simply helping them relax, which Isys believes, is one of his most important roles. He also plays games with the kids, which helps with confidence and coordination. He knows a variety of verbal and hand signals, which gives kids the opportunity to work on communication and movement. Stanley can even pull a wagon or bike with voice commands!
Stanley’s skills don’t stop there, though. This incredible pup works with kids on personal hygiene with sessions where they can brush and dress him.
They even use a special vest that features zippers, buttons, velcro, and other sorts of fasteners that kids can practice using. And, at the end of playtime, Stanley is trained to clean up the toys, so it’s great modeling for the kids.
Not long after his first birthday, Stanley and Isys started working on “bracing work” which would eventually lead to Stanely being able to provide mobility support to the kids he works with.
After the bones and joints are fully formed, a trainer can begin adding weight for short periods, a little at a time, until the dog is able to act as a sort of walker or brace for a kid who may be unsteady on their feet. Pretty amazing, right?!
When Stanley is off work, though, Isys says he is just like any other pet. As soon as his work vest comes off, that’s his signal that he’s free to be a puppy — bad habits and all! But, when that vest is put back on, Stanley is right back to business.
Finding a Service Dog Like Stanley for Your Child
Many organizations offer full or partial financial aid in acquiring a trained companion service dog for your child with special needs. Although some cater to specific needs, such as those of the deaf or those who rely on the use of a wheelchair, many of these groups offer their services to a wide range of applicants with disabilities.
Here’s a list of organizations provided by Rover.com that may be helpful in locating the perfect service dog for your child:
- Canine Companions for Independence (CCI)
- The Assistance Dog United Campaign (ADUC)
- The Service Dogs for America/Great Plains Assistance Dogs Foundation Inc.
- Paws with a Cause
- Summit Assistance Dogs
- 4 Paws for Ability
- Canine Assistants
- The National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS)
- Service Dogs Inc.
More Educational Resources for Kids Who Use Catheters
In addition to the new Pediatric Hydrophilic Cure Catheter®, Cure Medical is offering a complimentary EDUCATION PROGRAM that parents can use to teach their children “How To Cath” using fun, instruction tools like:
- Backpacks in blue and pink with no logos — for discretion at school or away from home
- Flash cards for boys and girls that also include steps for cathing with or without stomas
- Coloring books with crayons, a complimentary toy — and more!
California native Amanda Kerr recently requested a free Cure Educational Backpack for her daughter, Norah, and was thrilled at how helpful it was for her family and her daughter’s elementary school.
It was exactly what Amanda had been searching for — and more.
In the past, they had been given a book and some medical materials about catheterization, but the information in Cure’s kid-friendly kit was presented in an entirely different way that was much easier to understand.
“Norah is the first child with spina bifida at her school campus, so we needed to educate the school staff. Cure’s backpack and the materials included has been helpful for EVERYONE,” Amanda explains.
Click here to request your free backpack with educational materials to help your child learn the steps for self-cathing.